Google, already one of the largest employers in California's Silicon Valley, is reported to have purchased or leased large amounts of office space in anticipation of rapid growth in Bay Area staffing.
“Real-estate insiders familiar with Google’s hiring plan say the tech titan intends to hire 5,000 workers in the Bay Area a year for at least the next five years,” according to an article in the San Jose Mercury News.
The search and cloud computing giant has been expanding its office space for several years, but the scale of its recent deals has reached record levels, according to Jim Beeger, senior vice president at Colliers International, a commercial real estate services company.
The leasing of an entire 1.9 million square foot office complex in Sunnyvale may well be the largest single office lease in California in 15 years, according to local real estate dealers.
Google has agreed to rent roughly half of Moffett Field in Mountain View, home to NASA’s Ames research Center under a 60-year lease worth a total $1.16 billion over the lifetime of the agreement that was announced by NASA on Nov. 10. This gives Google a working airfield of its own, a private golf course and one of the world’s largest hangars, designed for airships.
Google also bought approximately half of the Pacific Shores complex in Redwood City, Calif., in October with almost 1 million square feet. Google confirmed it intended to occupy both complexes.
These office space deals are in addition to Google's plans to expand in San Francisco, where it has acquired an eight-story building on the city's Embarcadero and in Mountain View, Calif., where Google has bought more than 20 buildings in the last four years.
The expansion isn’t just in the San Francisco area. Google is seeking 600,000 square feet of additional office space in Manhattan. That’s enough room for 3,000 more employees, which would represent an 8 percent expansion of its staffing in New York.
“Dealing with Google is like being an only child with a rich uncle. A lot of expansion must be for new product we have never seen before, and that’s really exciting,’ Jim Beeger, told eWEEK. He added, “Other companies will have to react to Google’s expansion plans or be left in the dust.”
Google currently employees 55,000 people worldwide. These latest office space acquisitions represent a massive increase in company staff and a substantial re-orientation of its presence in the San Francisco Bay Area, with its focus at the corporate headquarters known as the Googleplex, in Mountain View. With more than $100 billion in the bank, Google can certainly afford some growth in personnel, but one wonders if they are all technical staff and what they will be doing.
Speculation that these are data centers doesn’t hold up, since Google is successfully deploying them in cooler-weather areas that aren’t earthquake prone. Google assembles its network equipment in China, so it's unlikely the Bay Area space will be devoted to equipment manufacturing.
One reason Google is likely acquiring new office space is to address commuting and traffic problems associated with getting employees to and from its huge Mountain View complex.
Google has been providing charter buses to bring employees to Mountain View, a practice that has become a focus of protests by people in San Francisco, who say the buses are adding to the congestion on city streets.
They also view Google employees as mostly affluent newcomers who are driving up rents and real estate values, making San Francisco unaffordable by less affluent residents, according to the report.
Now Google seems to be trying to address that problem with careful choices of the locations for the new spaces. They are spread out the length of the San Francisco Peninsula, so there won’t be a single choke point.
All of the sites have close-by North-South freeways and there are bridges from the east side of San Francisco Bay to the peninsula.
Shuttles to and from BART stations could also reduce commuting pain and Redwood City is close enough for a ferry from San Francisco. Beeger noted, “Google is on the bay with these sites, and ferries may allow them to have people from San Francisco commute down. This recognizes that most young engineers prefer the city lifestyle.” Still, concerns about commuting and yet more congestion are issues in early reactions to the Mercury News article.